“Thank you so much for speaking out. You really helped me. I am not as brave as you to go public with my story…I could never do that.”
This is one of the many messages I’ve received since my TEDx Talk, Escaping Porn Addiction, was released.
Unfortunately, it was sent to me anonymously and I don’t know if my response made it to the author.
Despite the fact that he was inspired enough by my talk to write a message to me, the message bothered me, and I would like him to know that. While I certainly appreciate that he was comfortable enough to reach out to me, even anonymously, leaving him with the sense that he cannot do the same thing, was most definitely not my intention.
I was really hoping that my talk would lead him to the exact opposite conclusion: if I could do it, he definitely could.
My road to the stage, any stage, wasn’t always so obvious. As far back as I can remember, I was painfully shy. As a young child in grade school, being asked to read a line from a book in front of my class, would result in a near anxiety attack.
The irony is that it is precisely my intense fear of public speaking that led me to pay attention to it and eventually overcome it. It was impacting so many areas of my life, especially as I was trying to build my company, that I knew I had to change it.
I’m reminded of a friend of mine who was so overweight and unhealthy that getting control of it became his main focus. Today, he is healthy, strong and always in top shape. I suppose, without people seeing where he came from, they may look at him and tell themselves that they too can never do that.
As I write this, the philosophy of fear as an indicator of what to tackle next comes to mind. Perhaps our biggest fears, our biggest obstacles are just the worlds way of telling us what it is we need to focus on most and where it is that we need to turn our attention to next.
For me, that meant overcoming my fear of public speaking. Then it meant, learning to live without porn and more recently it meant being honest about all of this in a very public setting. Not a single one of these came easy to me; I am far from a “natural.” I’m just a fat boy doing his best to stay in shape.
My intention in writing this is that this article makes its way to whoever wrote that message to me. Clearly, my TEDx talk didn’t land with him the way I wanted it to; Perhaps, this message will.
I think the reason I really want him to know this is because in his message, I heard a tinge of shame. And when I looked at the unifying theme of the work I do that I am most passionate about, it is all about removing shame.
Maybe when this message reaches him, he’ll understand one of the most important lessons I’ve learned: if you think you can’t do something that you really want to, it just might be a sign that you must.
See you on the stage.